Review: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding (and the movie with Renée Zellweger)
No one can claim that Bridget Jones lacks focus. In her diary, she is totally focused on three things: Keeping Mark Darcy, Losing Weight, and Giving Good Advice. But even with that with all that focus, things seem to go awry on her.
For one thing, it's hard to be receptive to a good snuggle while you're trying to hide the fact that you're wearing "really scary underpants." Bridget's undergarment struggles, begun in the first Diary (Daniel Cleaver was strangely aroused by her "giant" beige knickers), continue as she conceals her tummy bulge with corsetry.
Cannot help but wonder if was free to rearrange own fat according to choice, would I still wish to reduce amount? Think would have huge big breasts and hips and tiny waist...
The movie substitutes a near-triumph in Trivial Pursuit by Bridget at Mark's swanky Law Dinner party for her hilarious précis of Labour vs. Tory politics in the book. (Perhaps the movie producers thought the political discussion would be inaccessible—or worse, not funny—to US audiences.) Either way, Bridget's careening, almost-there headlong style is always capped by the final humiliating "oops!" ending, faithfully recorded in her diary under the daily record of weight, cigarettes smoked, and lies told about her diet and smoking.
Despite her obsessive focus on her Relationship With Mark Darcy, Bridget has time to obsess about other people's relationship issues, too. Her mother is off again, this time to Kenya, and Bridget believes her father's "stiff upper lip" reaction is hiding a broken heart. Her buddy Jude is starting to worry about her biological clock, but not enough to want the baby-belly and cabbage-bra issues of Magda, their "Smug Married" friend. And Sharon, or "Shaz," has abandoned her feminism for a troubling proclivity to watch soccer with the boys.
Bridget is battling work relationship issues, too. Her boss gives her assignments ("locate two Middle-England voters who are pro") and waits for her to screw them up. Meanwhile, he will put her on camera only in situations where she can display her complete incompetence (and her undergarments). Mark's office has him paired with Rebecca, who obviously has designs on him. (For some reason, the movie invents a whole other character to be the "jellyfish," whose every encounter with Bridget results in her delivering multiple verbal stings; "Bridge, how's it going with Mark? You must be really pleased to get a boyfriend at last.")
In an effort to escape the snarled cares of her life, Bridget agrees to visit Thailand with Shaz, "and NO MEN!" In fact, she gets her wish, as she winds up in a Thai women's prison. Fortunately Bridget's blithe take on life, and her thorough grounding in the religion of self-help (and Mark Darcy) come to her rescue.
Despite the substitutions and amendments noted above, the movie captures the breezy voice of Bridget Jones' diary entries perfectly. Casting is wonderfully apt; Colin Firth as Mark Darcy is especially appropriate, considering Bridget's and her girlfriends' sovereign remedy for the blues is a viewing of Pride and Prejudice starring Firth as Jane Austen's mannered hero Lord Darcy. Excellent reprises by Gemma Jones as Bridget's Mom, and Jim Broadbent as her Dad also shine. Hugh Grant shows up to reveal Daniel Cleaver's middle-aged angst, and to let Mark Darcy settle his hash.
In the end, though, it is Bridget Jones herself, with Renée Zellweger plumping up for the role again, who carries the story. You just have to love a woman who can look at herself honestly in the mirror, and still proclaim,
"I truly believe that happiness is possible... even when you're thirty-three and have a bottom the size of two bowling balls."